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International Women’s Day: The Road to Equality

In 1934, Pratibha Patil was elected the 12th president of the Republic of India. Indira Gandhi served as it’s third Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. Today, women from all over the world are reaching a wider variety of spheres (Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy took home Pakistan’s first Oscar for her short documentary “Saving Face.”) but before these influential dignitaries made their marks on society, women lived in a world of oppression and gender inequality.   In the early 1900s, bigoted wages and rights instigated an equal opportunity fire amongst women— 15,000 marched through New York City demanding improved working conditions and increased participation in social and political matters. It was not long after that the first National Women’s Day was declared and a second proposed celebration was approved and acknowledged in Denmark in 1911. IWD3 Since its descent from unjust beginnings, International Women’s Day is now a platform for women’s achievements celebrated in over 40 countries worldwide. While women are continuing to see favourable circumstances, there is still much needed for gender advancement in developing countries. Violence and female mortality for instance, have been pressing issues in India, which now holds the highest mortality rate in the world. Disparities also seem to plague the education sector as gender inequality is rampant in growing international communities. But perhaps a lingering struggle faced by women in prospering nations is the right to freedom of speech; the chance to be heard. Last year, 15-year old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was killed on her way home from school for proclaiming her active belief in girls’ education. Another young woman from Uttar Pradesh refused her father’s course of action to marry her off and was beaten profusely. Incidents as such instil a sense of fear in women and silence seems to be the only choice at hand.  Organizations such as the United Nations together with a pool of volunteers and non-profit establishments strive each day to combat the harsh reality of women in these parts of the globe.   This year, the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day is: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.” One would deem the statement fitting as women from the developing world continue to face challenges in education, health, and safety. IWD   As we celebrate International Women’s Day today (March 8), let us show our love and support to our fellow women in even the simplest of ways: give your mom a hug or your officemate a little flower. We also take time to remember, and recognize the event’s commendable inception and the women who so bravely spoke in behalf of their sisters.

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